WHY DOES THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF
VETERANS AFFAIRS CONTINUE TO GIVE
A SUICIDE-INDUCING DRUG TO VETERANS
WITH POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER?
COMMITTEE ON VETERANS’ AFFAIRS
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED TENTH CONGRESS
“A few months later, in February of 2008, the FDA issued a
Public Health Advisory stating, “Chantix’ may cause
worsening of current psychiatric illness, even if it is
currently under control and may cause an old psychiatric
illness to occur. Symptoms may include anxiety, nervousness,
tension, depressed mood, unusual behaviors and thinking about
or attempted suicide.” According to the records, the VA waited
until the end of February 2008, that is, a month later, to send
the letter and new consent form to study participants to notify
them of the dangers associated with Chantix’.
The letter informed patients that they may experience an
increase in psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety, nervousness,
tension, depression, as well as untoward changes in behavior.
It failed to mention in that letter that Chantix’
may lead to suicide ideation or attempted suicide. That fact
was buried in a consent form, and we have to put this in the
context of issues that we have had with the VA on statistics
about suicide, of taking the issue seriously.
We had two hearings where there seemed to be an attempt to
downplay the numbers, a real lack of speed in giving this
Committee information that the VA had; and downplaying, in
fact, the sense that if you have 1,000 suicide attempts per
month of veterans in your care, something is wrong. That is the
context in which we are viewing this particular situation.”